Currently Reading: The Autumnlands, Blackcross, Black Road, Black Science, Copperhead, Deadly Class, Descender, Drifter, The Dying & The Dead, East of West, EI8HT, The Fuse, Invisible Republic, Lazarus, The Legacy of Luther Strode, Letter 44, Manifest Destiny, Nameless, No Mercy, Rebels, RUNLOVEKILL, Saga, Southern Bastards, Southern Cross, Starve, Stumptown, They're Not Like Us, Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, Trees, The Wicked + The Divine
THE ENTIRE SERIES Now Broadcasting LIVE FROM THE DMZ
In April of 2011, LIVE FROM THE DMZ launched after a few weeks of discussion with Brian Wood. In addition to being one of the longest running series in Vertigo history, DMZ was an important cornerstone in Brian’s larger body of work, published in singles from 2005 to 2011. It was really the definitive alpha and omega entry in the second major period of his career. [For fellow Brian Wood historians, I tend to approximate the first period as 1997 to 2004 (CHANNEL ZERO to DEMO: VOL. 1), with the second period being roughly 2005 to 2011 (LOCAL to DV8: GODS & MONSTERS). THE MASSIVE now serves as flagship for the third period marker of 2012.] That said, the idea of commemorating this very special, 6-year, 72-issue saga in some way seemed like a logical move to make, but nobody was quite sure what form that should take. We looked at options, we worried about who would own the content, then we just did our own thing, and the rest took care of itself. Ultimately, we decided to do something very different. Phrases like “director’s commentary” and “backstage pass” and “all access” and “dedicated site” and “behind the scenes” kept popping up in an effort to describe something that I’m still not sure has been done before. I got a kick out of a Wiki entry describing it as a “canonical companion site curated by Justin Giampaoli.” It was designed as a destination resource that would enhance the reading experience of the individual collected editions for years to come, with interviews, concept art, making-of stories, and all sorts of process stuff. I wanted to do a deep dive and figure out what made the series tick, and by extension, maybe the creator too. I wanted to entertain, sure, but mainly to fascinate, by pulling the curtain back and demystifying the craft. The elevator pitch was way too long. There wasn’t a clean sound byte. But, sometimes complex work requires complex discussion. I still don’t think we have a concise name for it. There’s nothing like it. I always felt like we were breaking new ground, perhaps fitting for a creator with an equally unique voice.
Now that the entire DMZ saga has been “declassified” in this way and made public, I thought I’d post a final link-dump to catalogue all of the entries. With my introduction accompanying the final trade which shipped this month, I guess this is also a goodbye. Now that it’s over, I could reminisce about interviewing several artists, the colorist, and a senior editor. I could go on about interviewing Brian dozens of times, exchanging hundreds of emails about DMZ, discussing his work, other creators and their work, the general state of the industry, movies, pop culture, politics, dipping our toes into personal life outside of comics, the trust and burgeoning friendship that developed, and all the things Brian taught me along the way, probably without even realizing it at the time. I could make one final impassioned pitch to the PTB at DC/Vertigo and talk about how DMZ should be reprinted in glorious oversized deluxe edition hardcover format like it so richly deserves, and what exceptional bonus material the LIVE FROM THE DMZ content would make. I could focus on the fact that this ended up taking over a year of my life to complete, and that it led to freelance work-for-hire at DC Comics, a goal I’d set for myself that I got to unexpectedly and humbly cross off the list. But, none of that is really why I did it. I just wanted to talk about something cool that I liked. The rest took care of itself. I got to talk about a very important book. I got to support a creator-owned comic from a guy I respect. I got to know one of the most important creative voices of our generation; someone who’s straddled that sweet spot between indie swagger and mainstream appeal. Thanks to our audience for reading. Thanks to everyone in the online press who pushed it. Thanks to all of the interviewees for being so generous with their time and content. Thanks to Brian for the opportunity. It was my pleasure to be involved in this small way. It was an honor to feel like Brian trusted me to watch over his baby for a short time. Read DMZ. Read Brian Wood books like THE MASSIVE. Read Creator-Owned Comics. The rest will take care of itself.